Literary crushes: Gilbert Blythe

An occasional series about falling in love with imaginary boys

I have had a lot of literary crushes over the years, but the deepest and most enduring is the crush I have on Gilbert Blythe.

Let’s start with the shallow stuff: he’s really freaking handsome.

He has dark, dark hair (not quite black like Diana’s, but rich and shiny and fulsome, all the same). His hazel eyes look greenish in the orchard at Green Gables, but grey when he stands with Anne at the seashore looking out over Four Winds Point. He has pale, blemish-free skin, with cheeks that redden in the cold winter air of PEI. His smile is crooked and sparkly. He is tall, but not intimidatingly so. He’s puppyish and rounded until he nearly dies of typhus, when he suddenly comes out all hollows and angles and sharply defined jawline. He is, I think we can all agree, a regulation hottie.

(This boy looks nothing like Gilbert Blythe and I hereby boycott the upcoming film).

And he’s smart. Smarter even than Anne, maybe. Perhaps he’s a little arrogant about it, at first – or perhaps that’s just his awkward teenage way of showing Anne that he knows she’s his intellectual match. He gets better at showing it over time; he champions her brilliance and loves her mind before her beauty. (#GilbertBlytheIsWhatAFeministLooksLike)

He’s smart enough, anyway, to become a doctor – with strong, gentle, competent, doctorly hands. But he doesn’t take it for granted; he’s diligent and hardworking and determined and he deserves the academic success he achieves.

And more than that: he’s kind. Of course he’s kind to Anne – he loves her, after all, from the first day he sees her – but it’s such an unshowy and unselfish love. He gives up his job for her. He’s kind to Davy (though he’s awful) and Dora (though she’s a bore). He’s kind to Marilla. He’s kind to the old sea captain, and to his patients, and to the six lovely children that he and Anne bring up.

He’s not a dreamer like Anne – but he has dreams. Dreams of his redheaded girl and her circlet of pearls.

Gilbert Blythe is steadfast and unwavering; he is funny and wry. He is the only man in the world good enough for my beloved Anne Shirley. (But I would cut that bitch to get to him).

Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you [Gilbert] blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny nonny.

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